Dec 06 2012

“Mental condition of the asylum seekers has considerably worsend since 5 Iraqis joined the hunger strike, one asylums seeker inflicted self harm at 12 o’clock for the 2nd time.
Around 09:15am I was messaged from the immigration dept. that I had been summonsed for a meeting which I had requested weeks prior. I was in the internet room having used only my first 15 minutes when I was forced to go to this meeting. I had requested this meeting in regards to my personal belongings, but I took this opportunity to express my dissatisfaction, requests and reasons for my hunger strike and the utter discrimination shown towards different asylum seekers, and as I have no other means of protest than hunger strike, I show my concerns in this only way I can.

The officer said these are the new policies that have been put into action by the government and the DIAC, I repeated that this policy is most discrimatory, and not just us, but no one even in the government should expect us to be treated in this way, Mr Bowen has said that some of the asylum seekers who have arrived post Ausgust 31 are to receive bridging visas and some even allowed to work.

The officers said that he is not aware and said that he would have to ask to see if it is true, I reminded him that after 2nd World War and also the Vietnam War, many persons seeked refuge in Australia and it is unprecedented that the government would keep the asylum seekers in such dismal conditions, and with total uncertainty and nil programming for the asylum seekers.

The officer responded: this is the law post Ausgust 31, we cannot disobey the new rules.
I said that many specialists in this field and thinkers in this field and human rights organisations have express concern at this plan and claim it contravenes the UNHCR rulings, however, he was adamant in his beliefs this decision HAS been made by the Australian Government, and as with every law, it has its defendants and those who disagree with them. Those who have passed such laws are experts in this field and Australia is a signatory to the Refugee Convention, you are no different with those who are in Australia, so I protested: why then we are bing kept in such abhorrant conditions, return us and process us on the mainland, I was told Nauru is part of our process!
My other question was that on……IRC announced on Radio NZ that a country in which does not house UNHCR nor IRC offices is not capable of processing asylum seekers, so he repeated that Nauru is a signatory to the UNHCR conventions. (my question goes begging re non existance of the afore-mentioned offices).
I again mentioned that we were brought to Nauru under duress, threats and lies, he asked what lies?
I said that we were told on Christmas Island that those of us that go to Nauru will be the first whose cases will be processed and be give bridging visas, we were told we will be at the front of the processing queue, BUT NOW? not only we are not in the front, we are totally forgotten.
The officer said, no, we still are abiding by our promises and have not forgotten you.
I asked but this offshore processing has been introduced to deter the boats, but has it been effective? there are more boats arriving yet!
“When the law was passed, Mr. Bowen intended to send all asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus, but due to increased numbers and pressures of organisations, they brought in the first change which would allow the asylum seekers to obtain bridging visas as the large numbers would increase the risks of revolts, demonstrations or such incidents” and this change has had no benefits for us being in Nauru without any advantages. With increased pressures of various organisations job prospects have also been approved for some, and yet we are still in Nauru, but I must say this changes were good but had no effect or benefit for us having arrived in the same time frame and manner as the others who are receive temporary visas.
I am from and lived in Iran and witnessed the arrival of up to 8 MILLION REFUGEES over a few years and its after effects. As an expample incomes were not rising in line with inflation as there were many of the new arrivals would work for considerably less than an Iranian worker, therefore the local working class suffered enormous economic hardships and its after effects. But I must also mention the problems in Iran are deep rooted and political in nature (lack of political freedoms) and the above mentioned issue is only a side line to this fact.
(note from the translator): Mahdi is probably of the mind set that most Australians are fearing this same issue with new arrivals willing to work for less, not knowing this is not tolerated here or highly illegal compared to Iran where employers especially in the contruction industry seek cheaper labour being on offer from the refugees.
(Mahdi: I, myself agree with bridging visa asylum seekers to stop people from seeking shady or illegal employment).
Mr….. (immigration officer) turned out to be a good listener and I was really chewing his ear!
So, all this seemingly good improvements (bridging visas) had no effect for us, we are still very disheartened by this as to why nothing is being done for us.
I also told him, this is my thinking that maybe (in high probabilty) behind the scenes it may not be, that our future might be brighter.
At least show us one tiny dot, so that we can base our hopes and aspiration on that.
Are we really and truly forgotten? if so, our lives have been played with, and this will not have good results, it worries me…
Note from the translator: nature of above few sentences in original Persian hints at possible imminent drastic actions of further possilbe self harm or suicides.
Why is it that Mr. Bowen and others in Australia, don’t pay the slightest attention to us? what do we have to subject to Nauru laws? Mr. Bowens decisions thus far have all been to benefit the asylum seekers on Australian soil, he mention in one his interviews that it is still possilbe that some are sent to Manus or Nauru, another words, he reserves to send people there at any given time in the future, or maybe not, but we are still torturend with the deprivation of information. All this when there is no difference between us and others still on the mainland.
We have not seeked asylum in Nauru, and not aware of its laws, so we know nothing and we are kept in the dark, they say it is possible that we are kept here like this for years…
I had no intention to flee my county and seek asylum here, I had a job, I had just married, and wanted to live in that society amongst my family and friends, but ‘they’ didn’t let me, I was put in a situation that I had no choice but to flee my h omeland.
I had a friend who had fled to Turkey for asylum in a 3rd country over 18 months prior and who asked me to help him investigate about other places to flee to and I had recommended Australia.
(Mahdi: asylum seekers’s decision to cross seas with possibilty of drownings and extreme hardships are not taken lightly and considerable thought) this is Mahdi’s personal observation.
Most people who board these boat do it as a last resort to flee persecution and seek security, and they are aware of the dangers and hardships of coming by boats. I personally would not recommend anyone take this option, as it is very very horrific. A trip such as this is like hanging yourself with a thick rope and hoping that the rope would rip or that someone will rescue you before you stop breathing, only those very lucky ones survive! until you experience the boat trips no one could possibly understand what I have mentioned.
There are 140 ways to seek asylum in Australia, one of the choices is arriving by boat, if all the Refugee Convention member countries did their jobs well, the tsunami of asylum seekers would not head to Australia in such a way, but I must mention that Canada, UK and Australia are excluded from this rule and have then all their best, but there is much yet to be done. Daily the situation of asylum seekers world wide deteriorates, and for this reason, people chose authorised arrivals, and this does not mean that they are illegal. Presently all ar aware of the problems in the Middle East and there deepening crisis in this region, if the world community does not prudently think of solutions, the refugee situation form that area will become huge.
I told Mr……if something is not done urgently for the mental state of Nauru asylum seekers, things will quickly worsen, I ruge you please to be more clear (as to what is to happen to us) so that we not further tormented. Myself I was not in a good state yesterday, I was writing my will and then trying to translate it from Persian, I did not speak to anyone for 5 hours and chain smoked, inspite of the fact that normally I am an energetic person and give and receive positive energy, and as far as possible I am in control of my own mind. At the same time, I see people in the camp who now have problems even with basic communication with each other and due to their deteriorated mental state it is not possilbe to approach them. This has really worried me and I requested to definately see the psychiatrist who said he would see me at the first opportunity.
Now, it was time to speak of my personal hardships, I explained how I was forced to flee my homeland and told him that none of my family knows that I am in Nauru………etc.
I went on and on and I got one sentence in response: ‘We don’t play with peoples lives, we have proven this before”. This sentence made me extatic, as the tone of his voice was and his concentration it seemed that it was meant and was said sincerely.
When I returned to the camp, they were taking an asylum seeker to the clinic, he was on hunger strike and had not drunk water for 4 days and later in the afternoon 2 of the Pakistanis self harmed, and before the doctors saw them, asked to speak to the immigration officers and show them a video of their friends being released at Darwin airport and cried: “what is the difference between them and us”?
As I walked around the camp, I listenen in on other refugees who were speaking to Salvation Army officers and were saying if this situation continues we will bring ‘something’ onto ourselves, what is to become of us? I went over to the Arab’s tents, they were in dismal state as well, a 50 year old and a 21 y.o. and a few others who were on hunger strike and I told them the only thing I could: “Put your trust in the almighty”.
Around 7pm I found I was being followed by 2 officers, why? I didn’t know, at midnight, I asked to be allowed to check my emails only for a short few moments, and after a long process I was told that if I even touch the computers for one minute, my entire 30 minute allowance for the following day will be used up and my last report is still not complete, so I asked to use the computers that are not connected to the internet as a word processor and that was supplied very begrudgingly and I typed this there.
Situation in Nauru ‘mental slughter house’ is grim. There are 4 computers here not connected to the net and thier usage is allowed freely, however, I was denied this at first and camp security had to be called in to seek permission, eventhough others have always used these at will. I see the camp conditions as critical and a an incident is waiting to happen at any given moment.
3 other people self harmed today, 2 from Pakistan but after self harm, they waited in their tents and did not allow the doctors to bandage thier cuts until the immigration officers would come to see the pictures and videos of those freed this morning. They demaned justice saying these were our frineds we came on the very same boat, why this discrimination??? we won’t stay quiet for our right to be trampled like this.
Next day I was allowed to use the non internet connected computers, I hope this usage will not also be limited in the future.
Mahdi Vakili 7/12/2012
I humbly ask that when the above text is used, my rights are respected, least mention by name that it is from me, I persevere to write these and am afraid that my tongue (pen) will keep me here for years to come, even if so, I will not give up trying not to be silenced and to ensure the voice of this camp is not silenced in this world.
The situation here is inhumane, I will not be silenced, if one day you don’t hear from me, know that I am dead, as nothing will ever deprive or keep me or my fellow asylum from seeking our just rights.
Just now that I left the room, I saw 4 guys being taken to the clinic and hajd been staying there for 2 days are walking towards the kitchen, I asked what happened? they said, in their condition they constantly tormented with presence of food, cakes, juices and soft drinks, we were squirming with hunger pains and thirst, we could no longer tolerate it, we had to break our fast…”